Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire


Phone unemployment filing starts today

The state Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Division launched a telephone filing system on Oahu beginning today.

Unemployment claims filers will be able to "dial and file" instead of reporting to their local claims office, the department said.

Those who want to file new or additional claims or to re-open a claim can call 643-5555 from anywhere in Hawaii. The service will be open from Sunday to Friday beginning at 6:30 a.m. and will close at midnight every day, except on Friday when it closes at 4:30 p.m.

For the hearing impaired, TTY relay service is available.

Travel agency allegedly stranded visitors

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. >> The West Virginia Attorney General's Office is investigating a travel agency that allegedly stranded travelers who had purchased Hawaiian vacations.

Up to 500 customers may be involved, according to Tom Kupec, the attorney for Mitzi Layne Tichenor, who owns Mitzi's Travel in Clarksburg.

Customers reported paying for Hawaii vacations in advance only to find out that their tickets or lodging were not available when it was time to take the trip.

Some have reported being stranded at Pittsburgh International Airport, while others made it to Hawaii but had no lodging.

Kupec has said he plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Mitzi's Travel.

The Attorney General's Office received about 100 phone calls regarding the case, Assistant Attorney General Douglas Davis said.

"We are trying to get more information on it. We are getting lots of phone calls and collecting information. I can't say for sure what we are going to do at this point," Davis said.


Martha Stewart probe may be widening

NEW YORK >> Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. tumbled about 23 percent today, fueled by reports that the style maven may be facing a wider probe into alleged insider trading.

The widening investigation was reported today by the Wall Street Journal, which cited a person familiar with the case and said possible charges could include obstruction of justice and making false statements.

The Journal also reported that an assistant to Stewart's stockbroker had changed his initial version of her Dec. 27 sale of shares of ImClone Systems Inc.

Shares of Stewart's multimedia company closed down $3.20 to $10.40 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen about 45 percent since news broke this month that Stewart's sale of stock in the biotech company was under scrutiny in an insider trading investigation.


Bank of Japan holds line on interest rates

TOKYO >> Japan's central bank kept monetary policy unchanged, leaving borrowing costs near zero and pumping cash into the economy to end a four-year bout of falling prices as the nation pulls out of recession.

Bloomberg News reported the Bank of Japan has kept interest rates near zero since March last year and has made trillions of yen available to banks in a bid to stop a five-year slide in lending and end a decade-long economic slump.

Japan's economy grew 1.4 percent in the first quarter, snapping nine months of decline, as exports surged. Still, economists say the rebound may not last as a weakening dollar makes Honda Motor Co. cars and other exports more expensive, and as U.S. demand sags, putting pressure back on the Bank of Japan to take action.


[Hawaii Inc.]


>> Neill A. Char was appointed vice president and corporate banking officer at First Hawaiian Bank's corporate headquarters. Also, Carol Ono was promoted to manager in the operations research and development division. Robert L. Gardiner is now the assistant vice president and business lending manager in the dealer center division. Mark D. Kobayashi now serves as assistant vice president and manager of the product engineering department. Linda K. Teruya was promoted to assistant vice president and senior underwriter of the real estate underwriting department. Alan K. Tamanha was promoted to vice president and business banking officer at the main banking center. Morris D. Rabinko now serves as assistant vice president and corporate banking office at corporate. Joseph S. Carpenito is now vice president of First Hawaiian Insurance, Inc.

On the board

>> Matt Levi of Matt Levi Investigations has been elected chairman of the Hawaiian Humane Society's board of directors for 2002-2003.

Also at the Humane Society, Ernest H. Fukeda was elected vice chairman. James P. Hasselman was elected treasurer and Sharon S. Brown was elected secretary.

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